Summer Dry

We’ve been going through quite a dry stretch of weather here at The Farm School, and we are several inches short

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The beef herd enjoying fresh pasture.

of our usual rainfall totals for this point in the year. Things can certainly change quickly in New England, but the concern we’re facing now is that we are experiencing late summer dryness several weeks ahead of what are usually our driest months. We expect hot dry weather in July and August, brown grass and dusty dirt roads are pretty normal after the 4th of July holiday, but being August-dry in middle of June is a little worrying. If our dry season is as dry as usual, we could be in for a tough growing season for both pasture and veggies.

Several years ago, in the midst of a particularly wet summer haying season, an equipment dealer in our area called to try to sell us a preservative sprayer to attach to the back of our hay baler. His argument was, with climate change, we would never have enough good dry stretches of weather to adequately dry hay before baling. His piece of equipment, bolted to the back of the hay-baler, would spray a preservative onto the damp baling hay so that it would not mold or rot in the barn. However, in the years since, we’ve been facing significantly more periods of drought conditions than rainy weather. I’m certainly no ‘climate change denier’, but weather records show that average rain-fall amounts are typically reached through several years of below average rain-fall and a single year way over average. We’re eagerly waiting for that wet year to come soon!

We’ve had our first goat kid of the year, with Minerva delivering a little buck kid on Tuesday afternoon. The campers here at Sentinel Elm are suggesting names, and we will all vote on Friday before the campers go home. Keep your fingers crossed for ‘Monty’.

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Minerva’s buck kid, a day old.

Maggie’s Farm is now fully in the summer harvest and market schedule, and almost all of the work at that farm is focused on keeping all the veggie fields in tip top shape, harvesting and washing produce, and taking it all to market. We harvest on Monday and Wednesday, and do markets on Tuesday and Thursday. That leaves Friday for classes, field trips and tracking, and not much else on the schedule. Summer is veggie season, one of the strongest examples of the wonderful seasonal nature of farming.

Josh B and Bennet have been working over the past few weeks to restore some our old haying equipment, in the hopes of making some square bales ourselves.

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Our fleet of well-used haying equipment.

We have been partnering with local hay producers to help get the job done on some of our fields, but Josh and Bennet were able to make 40 square bales last week from a small field that the beef herd usually grazes. They have high hopes for cutting and baling more of our own hay in years to come, if they can keep our vintage hay equipment in working order.

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